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News and Comment October 2021

Index: 2019202020212022

10 October (Part 1) - What Sally said

The former Belvedere resident who didn’t like what he saw when he passed through a week or so ago and asked why, wrote to me again.

It was good to hear that he was pleased with my edit of his long email but not so good that he asked me more questions. Hadn’t his previous ones got me into enough Twitter Trouble already?

“Will they sit up and take notice or shoot the messenger” he asks. ‘They’ is not defined but if it is Bexley Council then the answer will be ‘No’ and ‘Probably yes’.

However Belvedere Councillor Sally Hinkley (Labour) had a few words to say on the subject. Correction, quite a lot of words.

Sally has lived within a couple of minutes walk of Belvedere station for the past 24 years. Her opinion of the area will be that of the frog in the bucket slowly brought to the boil while my correspondent is that of one dropped straight in. I have seen Sally and her family litter picking the streets several times, presumably in recognition of Bexley Council’s neglect of the area.

She doesn’t think the area has changed much and in terms of buildings, apart from the supermarket and pub closures, she is right, but the shopping area always instills slight apprehension when I walk by.

Sally’s principal comments follow…

There has been a multi agency meeting about the Belvedere Station area and Network Rail are going to undertake an assessment. I would imagine that better lighting will be an issue.

Railway Place has suffered a huge amount of fly-tipping. The land is multi owned (Bexley, Network Rail & Orbit) so it has been difficult to organise clearing it. (†) The gate and barriers have helped but the weeds still grow at the edge. Previously not noticed behind piles of rubble, mattresses, sofas etc.

The Belvoir pub was briefly a restaurant before being granted permission to be a church. (18/02926/FUL.)

The Belvedere Hotel is a beautiful building, but will become flats. (20/00311/FUL).

The library was where Park Vets now is and next to the Royal Arsenal Cooperative Society shop.
Belvedere Library
One thing I think is impacting Belvedere right now is the amount of weeds in gutters, pavements etc. When did you last see a man with the bottle on his back going along weed spraying? This was raised at Places Scrutiny and hopefully the new contractor, CountryStyle, will do better.

There is currently a consultation on a borough wide Public Space Protection Order to address street drinking and the like. The police have been eager to implement this in Wilton Road and Picardy Street but the Council did not accept that and instead have gone for the borough wide approach.

I don’t think Belvedere is all bad but there are certainly issues and I am hopeful of improvements. Belvedere is undoubtedly becoming busier, which is having an impact and where it was once a quieter area, it is now very much more an extension of the London sprawl.

Clearly on all these issues I am keen to do what I can to improve the area; it’s my home.
Picardy Street

Belvedere before climate change. Library to right of RACS.

I don’t think we are any nearer answering the former resident’s question as to why he perceived Belvedere as having gone downhill, Sally may not even agree with him.

The correspondent is clearly about the same age as I am so maybe he will remember that in the 1960s, soon after we had left school, there was pressure to strip teachers of their ability to discipline the unruly. I recall being in Scotland at the time and a school teacher (Matt McGinn) had achieved fame and a record deal by singing in pubs; his best known song included a line about issuing every teacher with a gun.

At the time the fear was expressed that undisciplined children would become parents and the social problems would become endemic. Some of those children are now great grand parents. As usual, politicians are to blame.

† Right chaps, how do we clear this fly tip? Oh I can do it if you like, can you both stump up a third of the cost? Right, done!

The RACS got everywhere, there was one in Farnborough Hampshire where I lived from 1949, raising two fingers to the local Portsea Island Society.


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